🇸🇪 VIDEOMAN 🇸🇪
Videoman (2018) is a Swedish comedy/thriller/drama feature film at present available on Film4 (limited period), Prime Video rent/buy £0.99/£1.99 in the U.K.; AppleTV US & Can; Tubi US & Aus. 1hr 33 min in Swedish (some English) with subtitles. Cert 18 U.K.
“A VHS collector and a woman obsessed with the 80s, both alcoholics, initiate a romance that helps them battle their personal failures.” IMDb
Stefan Sauk as Ennio Midena
Lena Nilsson as Simone Karlsson
Morgan Alling as Giallo-Bosse
Amanda Oons as Simone’s colleague
Martin Wallström as The Boss
Anna Wallander as Maggan
Victor von Schirach as Oskar with a K
Ove Wolf as VHS customer
Sven Wollter as The Neighbour
Carolin Stoltz as Faceless
Director: Kristian A. Söderström
Writer: Kristian A. Söderström
Composers: Robert Parker, Waveshaper
Cinematographer: Andreas Wessberg
Editors: Fredrik Morheden, Kristian A. Söderström
Production Designer: Anna-Karin Cameron
Make-Up: Sanna Persson
Visual Effects: Peter Lundgren
Locations: Gothenburg, Sweden. Ennio’s basement was filmed in the real Ennio Midena’s basement just slightly refurnished. Other scenes with collectors were shot in real life collectors’ apartments.
The lead character is loosely based on the Gothenburg-based collector Ennio Midena who plays the janitor in this film.
The single “Hot Boy” by Samantha Fox and the video were written, recorded and filmed specifically for this film.
“Giallo” is a term used a lot in this film. For more details on what the Italian term “Giallo” means in terms of literature and film here is a useful link that may be worth your while reading before watching Videoman:
Stefan Sauk was in season 2 of Before We Die playing the part of Jan, Lena’s husband.
“I’m a positive person. Definitely. Who’s disappointed a lot.”
I went into watching this film knowing very little about it aside from the basic premise and that it was a first feature for director/writer Kristian A. Söderström. I am, however, a child of the video era (well before videos actually but do not tell anyone) although not au fait with “Giallo” films at all. Does this matter when watching this movie? Although some of the in-jokes may not land with someone who is not familiar with the genre I still found that more than enough of the humour worked. I think that most of us can relate to people who are real enthusiasts or collectors of the more extreme kind (heck some of us ARE them) so this still packs a punch.
Both Ennio and Simone are alcoholics but neither owns up to that until near the end of the film. I will mention at this point that there is a lot of alcohol-related vomiting in this film, one epic incident involving a photocopier.
Ennio combines drinking with his obsession with video tapes of a certain era and kind. (I will point out here that some of the tapes are definitely of the more explicit sort…) He is a man who lives in the past and a “glory” once achieved with his video store back in the 80s and 90s. His point of reference is always back to this. He is also incredibly knowledgeable and quite objectionable in the way he expresses his superiority. It is his need to pay his rent or get evicted that helps drive the story in this film (back to this later).
Simone is stuck in a job she hates, with a boss who has zero management skills and a colleague who is conniving. She drinks. She drinks to excess. She has a fraught relationship with her daughter who she sees as preferring her ex-husband who had no interest in the girl until relatively recently. She drinks to function and to have fun but in reality, the alcohol stops her functioning (she is hopeless at her job) and makes her life a misery.
Both Ennio (there is a running gag about “like Morricone”) and Simone are relics of a past where they both had a “point” in being (very successful video store owner and mother) and now just do not fit.
There is an excellent McGuffin in this film, a videotape of Ennio’s that is worth a lot of money which if he can sell it will pay his rent and more. It is the moment where a deal is struck and he then goes to check that the tape is where it should be in his very organised collection and there is a space where it should be that creates this need to find it that drives the movie. The added impetus to finding it is that the buyer, Faceless, is notorious and as a result, Ennio fears for his life.
During this increasingly frenetic search for the missing tape, we meet other collectors and their apartments.
One hilarious scene is where a video is being played and then frozen at a point which can only be described as sexually explicit only to have the owner (played by Victor von Schirach) using it to prove the actress used a body double whilst Ennio is using it to show off his knowledge about the genre. Outrageous and very funny.
His friend, the one-time “leader of the pack” Giallo-Bosse is reduced by his new partner, their new apartment and lifestyle to hiding in the bathroom in order to talk on the phone to his friend. Regardless of the specific situation and gender roles, I think most of us know of people who have to do similar things.
I loved the direction and cinematography in this. The heavily saturated neon colours of some of the hallways etc. reminded me of Blade Runner. There is a mixture of camerawork in this movie and I felt it captured the realism on the one hand and tension and surrealism on the other.
The music in Videoman is amazing! I loved the whole 1980s vibe that was going on, especially in some of the scenes with Ennio and Simone.
Talking of these two, some of the scenes with them both were really touching. In the end, we are left (at least I was) with the hope that these two lost and untethered souls can help each other find a better way of living. Their relationship is a fraught one but, if nothing else, they both have a moment of self-awareness that suggests they may be able to. I loved the scene between Simone and her daughter.
The acting in this low-budget movie is excellent from the whole cast and you can see why Lena Nilsson won a Guldbagge Award.
Did this film leave me feeling sad for Ennio and Simone? To a certain extent, it did but overall I think it left me with a feeling of hope for them both.
I fully expect Videoman to be a divisive film. It is very sweary and sexually explicit in places that will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It also has a rawness to it visually at times which some will not like. I found it to be very touching and quite scary and thrilling. Parts made me laugh out loud, especially one slapstick walking straight into a concrete post moment! Ouch!
I enjoyed this film a great deal and can see exactly why it has become something of a cult classic.
1 Win 1 Nomination
Guldbagge (2019) Best Supporting Actress ~ Lena Nilsson
Nomination: International Film Music Critics Award (2019) Best Original Score for a Comedy Film ~ Robert Parker & Waveshaper
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